Ticks and their diseases

blacklegged tick map of the states

Blacklegged ticks or deer ticks

Potential Carried Diseases:

Habitat:

This tick is mostly found in coniferous forest. Also, they can be on the tips of branches of low growing shrubs.


Their distribution relies greatly on the distribution of its reproductive host, the white-tailed deer.

Time of the Year where they are a risk:

The adults are active from October-May, as long as the daytime temperature remains above freezing. While the nymphs are active from May-August. The nymphs of that species can carry the same diseases as the adult ticks.

*This guide is based on CDC data but ticks can be found anywhere, carry any diseases and bite at any time of the year.

american dog tick map of the states

American Dog Ticks

Potential Carried Diseases:

Habitat:

They are found predominantly in areas with little or no tree cover, such as grassy fields and scrubland, as well as along walkways and trails.


They are mostly found questing in tall grass and low lying brush and twigs.

Time of the Year where they are a risk:

They are active from April to early August.

*This guide is based on CDC data but ticks can be found anywhere, carry any diseases and bite at any time of the year.

lone star tick map of the states

Lone Star Ticks

Potential Carried Diseases:

Habitat:

They are found mostly in woodlands with dense undergrowth and around animal resting areas.


The adults will be found questing for larger animals, such as dogs, coyotes, deer, cattle and humans on tall grass in shade or at the tips of low lying branches and twigs.


The nymphs can be found questing for deer, coyotes, raccoons, squirrels, turkeys and some birds as well as cats, dogs and humans.

Time of the Year where they are a risk:

The adults are active from April to late August.

The nymphs are active from May to early August.

*This guide is based on CDC data but ticks can be found anywhere, carry any diseases and bite at any time of the year.

american dog tick map of the states

Brown Dog Ticks

Potential Carried Diseases:

Habitat:

Brown Dog ticks have a world-wide distribution, and can be found throughout the United States, although they are encountered more frequently in the southern tier of states. 


They occur predominately in and around human settlements and infest homes, animal pens, and dog kennels, often causing high levels of infestation both on dogs and in homes. 


These ticks can spend their entire life cycle indoors.

Time of the Year where they are a risk:

They are a risk throughout the year as they can live a complete life cycle indoor.

*This guide is based on CDC data but ticks can be found anywhere, carry any diseases and bite at any time of the year.

gulf coast tick map of the states

Gulf Coast Ticks

Potential Carried Diseases:

Habitat:

They are in coastal areas along the Atlantic coast and Gulf of Mexico.

They are found in grass prairies and coastal uplands.

Time of the Year where they are a risk:

At each stage of life, the Gulf Coast Tick can transmit the Spotted Fever. 


So the adults are active from June to October.

The nymphs are active from December to March.

The larvaes are active from October to January.

*This guide is based on CDC data but ticks can be found anywhere, carry any diseases and bite at any time of the year.

western blacklegged tick map of the states

Western Blacklegged Ticks

Potential Carried Diseases:

Habitat:

So far, these ticks have been spotted on the west coast solely.


They feed onto larger animals such as domestic dogs, humans, and deer.


They may be found in grasslands, woodland grass, or brush areas. Also, they can be on the tips of branches of low growing shrubs.

Time of the Year where they are a risk:

The adults are active from October-May, as long as the daytime temperature remains above freezing.

The nymphs are active from January to October, as long as the daytime temperature remains above freezing.

*This guide is based on CDC data but ticks can be found anywhere, carry any diseases and bite at any time of the year.

pacific coast tick distribution map across the US

Pacific Coast Ticks

Potential Carried Diseases:

Habitat:

They are found predominantly in shrublands, chaparral, and along trails from Oregon to northern Baja California and Mexico. 


Pacific Coast ticks are the most common tick found nearly throughout California.

Time of the Year where they are a risk:

They are active year-round but peak activity typically occurs during cooler months, and especially in March, April and May.

*This guide is based on CDC data but ticks can be found anywhere, carry any diseases and bite at any time of the year.

cayenne tick map distribution in the US

Cayenne Ticks

Potential Carried Diseases:

Habitat:

They are primarily confined to south Texas, although collections of Cayenne ticks from Florida and coastal regions of other states bordering the Gulf of Mexico have been reported.


Cayenne ticks are commonly found in grassy areas.

Time of the Year where they are a risk:

They are active year-round as long as daytime temperature are above zero (always the case in current affected regions (texas)).

*This guide is based on CDC data but ticks can be found anywhere, carry any diseases and bite at any time of the year.

rocky mountain wood tick map of the states

Rocky Mountain Wood Ticks (Wood Ticks)

Potential Carried Diseases:

Habitat:

They are found predominantly in shrublands, lightly wooded areas, open grasslands, and along trails, mainly at lower elevations.

Time of the Year where they are a risk:

The wood ticks can be active from January through November, but are most common in the late spring/early summer. 


Their activity diminishes during the hot and dry mid-summer period. 


Further west in the northern inter-mountain region, large numbers of adult wood ticks can occur in April and May.


The nymphs are active from March through October.

Larvae are active from March (further south) through October (further north).

*This guide is based on CDC data but ticks can be found anywhere, carry any diseases and bite at any time of the year.


The list of

Known diseases transmitted by ticks

Lyme Disease

Symptoms:

Signs of Lyme disease are more difficult to detect in animals than in people. The characteristic rash does not develop in dogs.


They seem to be experiencing generalized pain.

They might have stopped eating. 


Affected dogs have been described as if they were walking on eggshells. Often these pets have high fevers. 


Dogs may also begin limping. This painful lameness often appears suddenly and may shift from one leg to another. If untreated, it may eventually disappear, only to recur weeks or months later.


Non-specific signs which may indicate that Lyme disease is affecting the kidneys include vomiting, lethargy, anorexia (lack of appetite), and weight loss. The kidney form of the disease is less common, but often fatal.


Treatment:

It is treated with antibiotics. The antibiotic of choice is doxycycline, followed by amoxicillin, then azithromycin. Treatment lasts for 4 weeks. 

Following the treatment, the dog is not immune to getting the disease again.


Another option is vaccination. Vaccination against Lyme disease is recommended for pets that live in endemic areas or that travel to areas where Lyme disease is prevalent. 

Annual revaccination is necessary to maintain immunity. Discuss the matter with your veterinarian.

Babesiosis

Symptoms:

Sadly babesiosis can be subtle, without apparent clinical signs. The disease affects your dog's red blood cells and can go unnoticed for a while.


However, when the disease gets more severe, it will be characterized by findings such as abnormally dark urine, fever, weakness, pale mucous membranes, depression, swollen lymph nodes, and an enlarged spleen.


Treatment:

The FDA approved treatment for babesiosis is imidocarb diproprionate. A combination therapy of quinine, azithromycin, atovaquone, and/or clindamycin is being researched and may become more common to treat dogs with in the US or Canada in the future.


Clindamycin, the treatment of choice for Babesia microti, the main Babesia species that infects humans, can also be used against Babesia in dogs. Clindamycin is a readily available antibiotic and is an excellent starting point for treatment in many dogs.


There are no current vaccine approved against babesiosis.

Anaplasmosis

Symptoms:

Infection with the more common form of anaplasmosis often causes lameness, joint pain, fever, lethargy, and anorexia (lack of appetite). 


Most infected dogs will have symptoms for 1 to 7 days; however, some will have no or only minor symptoms. Less common clinical signs include vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, and labored breathing.


A slightly different form can cause a decrease in your dog's platelets (circulating cells that help in the blood clotting process). Some dogs may develop bruising or bleeding (including nosebleeds).


Treatment:

The treatment for canine anaplasmosis is the antibiotic doxycycline. Many infected dogs are treated for 2-4 weeks (the longer course more often if co-infected with Lyme disease). In the majority of cases, symptoms improve rapidly. Dogs are often markedly better 24 to 48 hours after therapy is begun, and the prognosis for clinical recovery is excellent.

Flavivirus

Alright this one is slightly different. Flavivirus is not a disease in itself. It is a family of viruses. 

It includes 53 viruses, but the most common are the Powassan virus, West Nile virus, Yellow fever virus & Tick-borne encephalitis virus.


This last one, Tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBE), seems to be the one that can affect dogs. 


Symptoms (TBE):


This disease is often characterized for instance by fever, apathy, weakness, reduced consciousness, lethargy, anorexia, ataxia, hyperalgesia and neurological disturbances.


Treatment (TBE):

There is no specific treatment for TBE. The best way is to consult with your vet as soon as possible to decide on a treatment.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Symptoms:

In dogs, the signs of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can be vague and non-specific.

But typically, a dog that has become infected with RMSF may have one or more of the following clinical signs: poor appetite, non-specific muscle or joint pain, fever, coughing, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, swelling of the face or legs, or depression.


Alone these signs are non-specific. But because you just removed a tick from your dog, these signs will probably mean your dog has the RMSF.


Focal hemorrhages may occur in the eyes and gums, as well as nosebleeds in severe cases. Neurological signs such as wobbling when walking (ataxia) and painful hypersensitivity can also be seen.


Treatment:

Doxycycline is the preferred antibiotic for the majority of cases and may be given from anywhere to 7-21 days depending on the dose. Tetracycline is also effective but requires more frequent administration and is given for 14-21 days. Neither of these drugs should be given to young animals or females that may become pregnant.


Finally, if the disease is diagnosed in its early stages and treatment is started immediately, the prognosis for successful treatment (chances of recovery) is excellent.

Tularemia

Symptoms:

Tularemia is a rare infection in dogs and dogs are known to be less susceptible to illness than other species. Tularemia is often self-limiting although some dogs experience short periods of poor appetite, lethargy, and mild fever. Less frequently, dogs may show conjunctivitis, uveitis (inflammation in their eyes), draining abscesses, and enlarged lymph nodes.


Treatment:

Tularemia can be treated with antibiotics. Dogs may require hospitalization with supportive care (intravenous fluid therapy). Draining abscesses should be surgically removed.

Ehrlichiosis

Symptoms:

Signs of ehrlichiosis can be divided into three stages: acute (early disease), sub-clinical (no outward signs of disease), and clinical or chronic (long-standing infection).

For each phase, the symptoms vary.


Acute

In this stage, infected dogs may have fever, swollen lymph nodes, respiratory distress, weight loss, bleeding disorders (spontaneous hemorrhage or bleeding), and occasionally, neurological disturbances (they may seem unsteady or develop meningitis). This stage may last two to four weeks and some dogs may eliminate the infection or head in to the sub-clinical phase.


Sub-clinical

The sub-clinical phase is often considered the worst phase because there are no clinical signs and therefore the disease goes undetected.


Clinical

Dogs are likely to develop a host of problems: anemia, bleeding episodes, lameness, eye problems (including hemorrhage into the eyes or blindness), neurological problems, and swollen limbs.


Treatment:

Certain antibiotics, such as doxycycline, are quite effective. A long course of treatment, generally four weeks, is needed. This is the treatment of choice as it is easily accessible and generally well tolerated. Alternatively, imidocarb (not available in Canada) can be used intravenously.


Dogs experiencing severe anemia or bleeding problems may require a blood transfusion. However, this does nothing to treat the underlying disease.


Access the full resources on ticks

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